Yes, I know: it should be a 48-star flag... The 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, 1943 to 1945

The United States (Part 4)

. . . PICKETT and more intensive training. Qualification in small arms, transition firing at moving and suddenly appearing targets, first inspections under the Preparation for Overseas Movement (POM) Orders, radar tracking night and day, schools of all kinds. We practiced throwing grenades and ducking fast. Then came the day we were to test our firing ability, using for the first time the new SCR-584 Radar. On the 20th of October we hitched the guns to the "primes" and headed for . . .

. . . NEW POINT COMFORT. It was ninety-seven miles from Camp Pickett, Virginia, to New Point Comfort, Virginia, and our convoy was pleasant but uneventful.

New Point Comfort was a small seaside firing range that could accomodate only two 90 mm batteries at a time; A and C immediately moved into the prepared positions. Setting up was not too easy, due to the soft sand, but by nightfall the two batteries were ready to fire.

XIII Corps had done a good job to make our shoot successful. Not only did we obtain comfortable barracks but plenty of ammunition was being trucked all the way from Camp Davis for us. They even had a P.X.

At last we were to fire with our new radar. After weeks of practise, the range section was anxious to put their new found knowledge to the test. It was to be our first unseen firing.

Firing was slow, although we expended 871 rounds, due to the many fishing boats moving in and out of the area under our bursts, and the fact that only two batteries could fire at a time. And then of course the Air Corps always ran on a totally different time table from the Artillery's. While waiting for the "90" target, however, they flew machine gun sleeves for us and almost everyone had a chance to fire the 50 Cal. watercooled machine guns.

Plenty of "brass" was on hand to watch the firing, the first 90 mm Gun Bn to fire, using the SCR-584: Major General Reinhart C. G. of XIII Corps, Brig. General McConnel of AA Command, the Range Officers and key range personnel of the 413th AAA Gun Bn., and of course the inspection team headed by Captain Short.

Who will ever forget some of the things that happened here: the weird met message the Bn met section got when the balloon made a complete circle directly above our heads; the round which jammed in a C Btry gun tube with the Ordnance boys pounding it for two whole days to eventually remove it; or best of all the time D Btry's gun knocked down the sleeve target on the fourth shot.

October 25th, 1943 found us on our way to Camp Pickett with a knowledge that our shoot had been highly successful. Three sleeves knocked down and. this commendation from AA Command ringing in our ears: "Artillery Drill rated excellent. Your Bn showed more snap and alertness than any other Bn rated by this inspection team." Eight days later we regretfully heard the by now almost ominous words "March Order", and prepared to leave this soldiers paradise.

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returns to Camp Pickett, VA on 6 October 1943 for about two more weeks of intensive training in small arms, radar tracking and more. Then on 20 October they're off to New Point Comfort, VA, a seaside firing range. Here, as they are the first 90mm battalion to fire using the SCR-584, they are observed by various brass, including Major General Reinhart, CG of XIII Corps, and Brig. General McConnel of AA Command. After about a week of firing, it's back to Camp Pickett for a week.
 
Updated Tuesday June 07, 2005 09:11:31 PDT
The original text of The Story of the 115th A.A.A. Gun Battalion, published by the unit in 1945, is in the public domain. So how, you may ask, can I claim that the contents of these web pages are protected by copyright?

The answer is that it is my own transcription of the text and images into electronic format, and compilation into these web pages that is copyrighted. In addition, the web design, art, and annotations, plus all material from my father's personal albums are copyrighted original works. I reserve all rights to how all these materials are used. You may not copy them or store them in any retrieval system without permission.